#1
https://culturico.com/2020/07/26/what-is-really-radical-in-sex-gender-politics/

The political left, and much of mainstream feminism, is characterized by an analysis of how systems and institutions shape our choices, a critique of capitalist media, and a commitment to a scientific/materialist worldview. But when faced with radical feminism’s compelling critiques of patriarchy, leftists and many feminists routinely abandon those principles. Radical feminist critiques of prostitution, pornography, and transgender ideology should be part of a consistent, coherent left analysis.

For the past three decades, I have been involved in a variety of political movements in the United States that critique the distribution of wealth and power. My politics are radical feminist, anti-capitalist/anti-empire, anti-racist, and ecological – positions that I will sometimes sum up with the term “leftist.”

For me, all those analyses are rooted in a challenge to the hierarchies that define virtually all of contemporary society. Such a politics rejects the domination/subordination dynamics that inevitably emerge from hierarchy – both within the human family, and between humans and the larger living world – which produce an unjust and unsustainable world.

In my experience, this collective commitment on the political left to challenge hierarchy is routinely rejected in the case of radical feminist positions, especially challenges to men’s commercial sexual exploitation of women. I believe those radical feminist positions are consistent with anti-hierarchy/anti-domination politics, but many who also identify as leftist disagree, sometimes vehemently.

My thesis is that in contemporary political debates, leftists criticize liberals for failing to strike at the systems at the core of hierarchy/domination, for being satisfied with tepid reforms rather than the radical change necessary to produce real justice. Yet when confronting the issues around prostitution, pornography, and transgender ideology, lots of leftists become liberals. My goal here is to describe these conflicts and offer a tentative explanation for them.


Prostitution
A hallmark of left analysis is a focus on systems and institutions, not simply on the individual choices people make in a moment within a hierarchical system. For example, capitalism’s defenders argue that in a system based on the freedom to choose, wealth inequality is the inevitable byproduct of some people’s greater talent and/or effort, and that this inequality is necessary for innovation and progress. Leftists point out that people do indeed “choose” but under conditions that often leave little meaningful choice for those struggling to survive, and that greed and self-interest are not the only human motivations that generate creativity.

Capitalists exhort people to improve their lives through education and effort, but no matter how virtuous study and hard work may be, individual choices won’t produce equity. While claiming to protect individual liberty, capitalism makes meaningful freedom more difficult for most people to achieve.

That critique of liberalism and individualism seems to go out the window for many on the left when they analyze prostitution – or as prostitution supporters like to call it, “sex work.” Instead of recognizing how the sexual-exploitation industries (e.g., prostitution, pornography, stripping, massage parlors) actually operate in patriarchy, many leftists argue that if women choose to engage in “sex work,” they should be free to do so, and no further examination of context apparently is relevant. Leftists, who are critical of capitalism’s relentless commodification of everything, seem to accept the commodification of women’s bodies for male pleasure (while some boys and men are prostituted, of course, the vast majority of people used in the sexual-exploitation industries are girls and women).


A simple question for those who claim to want to end sexism and foster sex/gender justice: is a society likely to achieve that justice if one group of people (women) can be routinely bought and sold for the sexual pleasure of another group (men)?

Prostitution is a “job” that is, as one researcher puts it, “multitraumatic.” (1) As one feminist philosopher explains, “if we apply the regulations currently applied to other forms of work to the selling and buying of sex, the acts intrinsic to the ‘job’ can’t be permitted; they are simply inconsistent with regulations governing worker safety, sexual harassment laws, and civil rights.” Another critic points out that “the logic underlying such arguments quickly reduces to a defense of libertarian capitalism.”

The leftists’ response often doesn’t go beyond the slogan “sex work is work,” with an argument that the real harm is created not by men’s sexual exploitation of women but by the stigma associated with, and criminalizing of, prostitution. This claim ignores the fact that radical feminists have long rejected the criminalizing of those who sell sex (primarily women) and advocated the “Nordic Model”, which imposes penalties only on sex buyers (primarily men). These laws put the focus where it should be – on men’s accountability for their choices to sexually exploit women, not on women’s choices to survive by selling sex – and fund the services women need to leave prostitution.


Pornography
Media criticism is another key component of contemporary left analysis. For example, left critics of mainstream news organizations have argued that journalists’ claims that they simply present “the facts” ignore the importance of selection, context, and framing in constructing the news. Ed Herman and Noam Chomsky offered a compelling “propaganda model” that demonstrates how commercial news media tend to reflect the worldview of powerful people and institutions.

Just as news media never simply inform, entertainment media do much more than entertain. Movies and television shows are shaped by myriad value judgments and are never a simple presentation of an unfiltered reality. For example, critics from the left have pointed out that media reinforce the myth of meritocracy and support consumer capitalism, trade in racist depictions, and are filled with sexism and sexual violence (2). Even so-called “reality television” is never reality; shows such as “Cops” and “Live PD” are a form of “copaganda” that distort public perceptions of policing.

The one mass media genre that escapes consistent left scrutiny is pornography, the graphic sexually explicit material that saturates contemporary online culture. When it comes to pornography, the left seems to abandon concern about how entertainment media convey values and help shape attitudes, suggesting instead that pornography is simply “fantasy” that we need not take seriously. There are sexual fantasies presented in pornography, but there’s no rational reason that fictional depictions should be critiqued in some parts of the industry (Hollywood movies and network TV, for example), but ignored in pornography. If anything, men’s routine use of pornography as a masturbation facilitator should make us more concerned about how the images shape attitudes and influence behavior.

Pornography is, without a doubt, the most overtly sexist and racist media genre in contemporary culture. Women are routinely presented as not only accepting male dominance but seeking it out so they can achieve sexual fulfillment. Pornography routinely employs overtly racist stereotypes, such as the sexually aggressive African American man (3) looking for white women or the demure Asian geisha who lives to provide pleasure to white men, which would produce justifiable leftist outrage in any other media genre.

When radical feminists began to challenge the pornography industry in the 1970s, the left largely ignored or ridiculed the critique, endorsing a liberal/libertarian approach based on the primacy of freedom of choice. Even when it was clear that the pornography industry was eroticizing male dominance and racism to keep the predominantly male consumers paying for more, leftists mostly ignored how the profit motive led to intensified sexism and racism. Feminist critics were labeled prudes for their failure to see that it’s all just harmless fun.

Decades later, the radical feminist critique of the harms of pornography (4) – to the women used in the industry, to women against whom pornography is used, and to all women who live in a society in which sexual brutality is eroticized and widely circulated – is more compelling than ever. The routine degradation of women and the racist portrayals of African Americans and other people of color continue. Yet the left has yet to embrace the critique.


Transgender ideology
The left tends to think of itself as scientific and materialist. I use those terms here not in the specific way they show up in Marxist theory, but in a more general sense. Leftists argue that we should make rational claims that can be defended with evidence and logic (as do a wide variety of other people, of course), and any claim inconsistent with the material realities of the world should be rejected. In my experience on the left, any type of theological claim cannot be the basis for public policy, no matter what one’s personal beliefs.

These commitments are ignored when leftists support the ideology of the transgender movement. Radical feminists have long argued that sex categories (male and female) are biological realities tied to reproduction and that gender categories (masculine and feminine) are cultural constructs. Sex is a material reality, and gender is how a culture imposes meaning on that reality. The transgender movement includes people with widely varying ideas about this, but a claim often repeated in that movement is that sex itself is a social construct. But “social construction” implies that something could be constructed differently. Marriage is a social construction, for example. At one point in the United States, only heterosexual couples could get married, but now same-sex couples can as well. Humans tend to be a pair-bonding species, but the meaning of “marriage” could change because it is but a social institution.

Sex categories and human reproduction are a different matter. I am biologically male (with no traits that would put me in the category of intersex, a very different question than transgender). I cannot menstruate, carry a fetus, or nurse a baby. That is a biological reality, and not subject to change through cultural redefinition. Not all women have children, but only women have children; no one can socially construct me into pregnancy.

This matters because in patriarchy, girls and women face specific threats to their psychological and physical safety by virtue of being female, most notably men’s harassment and violence. Certain kinds of single-sex spaces (such as changing rooms and prisons) and institutions (girls and women’s sports) exist to give female humans some measure of protection from male dominance. If there is no impediment to men claiming to belong in the category female, it opens those spaces to men who can use the ambiguity over transgender identity to exploit women. High school boys who identify as girls and then compete in athletics as females undermine the opportunities for female athletes.

Transgender people need protection from violence and discrimination, as the U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled, but not at the expense of the right to privacy and security of girls and women who want access to single-sex spaces and refuse to capitulate to “a patriarchy that suggests women must always sacrifice so that the male-bodied can be comfortable,” as one legal scholar puts it. If a transgender ideology that erases sex differences becomes normalized, it’s reasonable to expect more constraints on the freedom of girls and women.

The transgender response is often simply to repeat, “trans women are women”, without offering answers to important questions – what does that actually mean, why are feminist concerns about the implications of that ideology irrelevant, and why is radical feminism’s longstanding challenge to patriarchal gender norms not a productive path? In my experience, the left has largely accepted the policy proposals of the transgender movement without asking for a more coherent explanation and without providing safeguards for girls and women. Daring to challenge that ideology can get one shouted down in public and expelled from left organizations, experiences with which I am familiar.


The end of patriarchy?
Why do leftists so routinely abandon some of their core principles and practices when dealing with radical feminist critiques of patriarchy? Why do leftists so easily embrace liberal individualism and accept arguments that are unclear and/or incoherent when they involve sex/gender and sexuality? My tentative explanation: fear and a lack of imagination.

I don’t mean that as an insult, as if leftists are cowardly and insufficiently creative. In this context, “fear” simply recognizes that it can be scary to rethink basic assumptions about ourselves and our social world. In this context, “lack of imagination” simply recognizes that it can be difficult to construct a new sense of self and society when those old assumptions are gone. I know this, because I am often afraid and regularly struggle to imagine new ways of living. When I first encountered the critique of pornography, for example, I mocked the radical feminists who were challenging male power rather than critically self-reflecting on my own life. But today, I find radical feminism to be a source of strength (watch my TEDx talk below).

When discussing my book The End of Patriarchy: Radical Feminism for Men (5), I joke that the title is aspirational and not a prediction. I don’t expect to see the end of patriarchy in my lifetime. Given my age (I was born in 1958), I also don’t expect to see the end of capitalism, Western imperialism, or white supremacy. But my guess is that patriarchy will take even longer to dismantle. Patriarchal attitudes are woven so deeply into the fabric of our lives – especially our sexuality – that it can be difficult to see how the system shapes us and frightening when we start to understand it.

I understand the fear of confronting a powerful system and the difficulty in imagining something new. But we can start with policy proposals that are viable today. The Nordic Model that addresses prostitution is working in several countries. Feminists have created pornography education campaigns to respond to “this public health crisis of the digital age.” And we can challenge transgender policies that erase the material reality of sex differences in patriarchy.
#2
I disagree that fear and lack of imagination are the reasons for why the left has largely failed to adopt a materialist critique of gender and patriarchy. There is a lack of concrete practice around combating patriarchy within the left, so there isn't any real advancement in theoretical conceptions.

Radical feminist groups were also targeted by COINTELPRO, and the anti-materialist postmodernist conceptions of gender have dominated since that repression. There's a feminist theory and practice that challenges patriarchy, and there's a theory and practice that turns inward and individualizes social constructs.
#3
Im a second waver 4 life I stan Dworkin
#4

There are sexual fantasies presented in pornography, but there’s no rational reason that fictional depictions should be critiqued in some parts of the industry (Hollywood movies and network TV, for example), but ignored in pornography.



Interestingly, from their statements it does not follow that porn should be opposed in general. On the contrary, I believe it should under the conditions of patriarchy.

any type of theological claim cannot be the basis for public policy, no matter what one’s personal beliefs.



This isn't a view which I particularly subscribe to, but I'm not sure if the authors intend to endorse this notion. I think they are mistakenly using the word "theological" when they mean "idealist."

no one can socially construct me into pregnancy.



I don't see any reason to conclude this. Marriage is a certificate and two rings, and pregnancy is a few organs, but marriage is socially constructed while capacity for childbirth is not?

The trans section is overall foolish, and there are only two pieces of evidence, one of which involves high school athletics which idgaf about.

a challenge to the hierarchies that define virtually all of contemporary society.

I don't understand in which ways this sentence is related to reality, unless by "contemporary" he means "a few thousand years" and by "hierarchy" he means "class."

And we can challenge transgender policies that erase the material reality of sex differences in patriarchy.

this is a bad idea

------- my overall thoughts:

The author claims that gendered bathrooms/personal spaces protect women from male violence. It seems they would conclude that unisex bathrooms actually further the interests of patriarchy. Despite their reactionary views with respect to transgender reality, is this true? Suppose that certain nonbinary or gender nonconforming individuals were liberated by the elimination of gendered bathrooms, at the cost of the production of more male violence and harassment. What is the answer? To have three bathrooms, men women and neither? to have a men bathroom and non-men bathroom? The answer is to have one bathroom, for non-men.

An interesting question which I've thought about before is, in an advanced communist society, will gender exist? To me this is a likely situation, but I am not familiar with strong arguments either way.

(watch my TEDx talk below)

Edited by Acdtrux ()

#5
first two points uncontroversial outside of internet petty bouj spheres, the last point isn't even worth picking apart, why would you care what some academic mouthbreather whose "materialism" is explicitly vulgar has to say about any of this
#6

pogfan1996 posted:

The transgender response is often simply to repeat, “trans women are women”, without offering answers to important questions – what does that actually mean, why are feminist concerns about the implications of that ideology irrelevant, and why is radical feminism’s longstanding challenge to patriarchal gender norms not a productive path? In my experience, the left has largely accepted the policy proposals of the transgender movement without asking for a more coherent explanation and without providing safeguards for girls and women. Daring to challenge that ideology can get one shouted down in public and expelled from left organizations, experiences with which I am familiar.



the answers to a lot of these questions are readily available to anyone not being willfully dense to posture as "radical". "materialism" reduced to bio-essentialism is closer to fascism than communism. the idea that patriarchy is an emanation of biology and not a relation that is fundamentally social and malleable is explicitly fascist.

Edited by c_man ()

#7
the anti trans stuff is all but certainly a coordinated operation against the left, one that's been very succesful. I don't think I'm alone in having watched it be forced into the discourse before spreading and developing from there, mostly among older leftists, to the current situation where the CPGB-ML is yase queening JK Rowling and old communists are senilely linking to overtly right wing websites in between stalin stuff.

It reinforces the marignality of important issues and struggles by having them associated with marxish sounding critiques of 'gender ideology' or whatever. The shit about athletics has been inseparable from this made up non-issue since its earliest days, presumably because it provides some sort of reference for the nonsense invocations of materialism. The fact that such arguments are obviously advantageous for preserving the institutions and sstructures of patriarchal gender relations is basically never addressed, because it was lifted directly and deliberately from extreme reactionaries with whom it is actually a bad thing to be associated with.

It is not the responsibility of trans persons to provide theoretical justifications for their own existence, rather it is the task of dialectical materialists - in so far as they preoccupy themselves with correctly theorizing gender - to account for the manifest reality of gender as it really exists. This is much much more difficult than simply reinscribing and re-prescribing the (still very) hegemonic conditions of Western patriarchal gender ideology and relations. More pressing a task however is for communists to resist attempts by the CIA and other imperial kkkulture warriors to disintegrate resistance by exploiting a superficial appearance of contradiction.

Edited by chickeon ()

#8

the anti trans stuff is all but certainly a coordinated operation against the left, one that's been very succesful. I don't think I'm alone in having watched it be forced into the discourse before spreading and developing from there, mostly among older leftists, to the current situation where the CPGB-ML is yase queening JK Rowling and old communists are senilely linking to overtly right wing websites in between stalin stuff.



i see that too. trans people are 'living proof' of gender fluidity and sex/gender delinking, a living counterargument to patriarchy's ideology. so for most of the 20th century the solution was essentially to make trans people unable to live. like all the subjects of amerika's genocidal dreams, the people didn't lay down and die like dogs, so i believe today we're in the 'neocolonial' era of it, and wherever possible, trans people are being made into unwilling cultural weapons, especially by people we might otherwise listen to.

i watch a little of rupaul's drag race. extremely popular amerikan show with liberal white women. while porno hyper-masculates black men, drag race emasculates them (and latino and asian wo/men, with a token white or two per season). trans people on this show are not allowed the full range of humanity, they are expected to don a toxic femininity, superficial, back-biting, catty, slutty, clothes-obsessed, unlike the vast majority of human women. rupaul gets infinite money to do this in the great satan (over a dozen spinoffs), to emasculate the colonized nations, and encourage them sell this sick idea of womanhood to the target audience. as just one example.

the OP manages to get the high school sports "issue" exactly backwards... who gives one shit if there's a trans woman on the soccer team... the only enjoyable season i had playing high school sports was 9th grade, waterpolo, we didn't have enough people to field both JV and varsity, or a women's team, so everyone played together. we lost every game, but it was so much fun. teaching children to violently compete against one another in gladiator sports is useful to whitey's broader ideology, and the brave children subverting that should be supported and nurtured. a 15-yo linebacker remembering his humanity, thinking twice about plowing down a transman, thinking about what separates him from him, how is this not a positive development?

#9
not gonna read this thread but im assuming its all about bathrooms and sports
#10

c_man posted:

pogfan1996 posted:

The transgender response is often simply to repeat, “trans women are women”, without offering answers to important questions – what does that actually mean, why are feminist concerns about the implications of that ideology irrelevant, and why is radical feminism’s longstanding challenge to patriarchal gender norms not a productive path? In my experience, the left has largely accepted the policy proposals of the transgender movement without asking for a more coherent explanation and without providing safeguards for girls and women. Daring to challenge that ideology can get one shouted down in public and expelled from left organizations, experiences with which I am familiar.

the answers to a lot of these questions are readily available to anyone not being willfully dense to posture as "radical". "materialism" reduced to bio-essentialism is closer to fascism than communism. the idea that patriarchy is an emanation of biology and not a relation that is fundamentally social and malleable is explicitly fascist.



maybe you could explain in detail what those answers are or even just link to them because the way the general experience and phenomenon of the trans dilemma is articulated, with almost comical uniformity, is unquestionably essentialist in nature: its an assertion of mind-body mismatch, for christ's sake. where do you even begin if not with the idea that such things can also match?

i dont see how anybody could be willfully dense about this. the case is plainly stated by the people who are in the best possible position to characterize the whole predicament: i am a (wo)man trapped in a (wo)man's body. everything objectionable in that formulation is right out there in the open, which i just assume is why you run to this slander and only hint at a possible reply. as long as the critics are just pathological bigots, theres no need to reply. but there obviously is a need, so out with it

#11

kamelred posted:

maybe you could explain in detail what those answers are or even just link to them because the way the general experience and phenomenon of the trans dilemma is articulated, with almost comical uniformity, is unquestionably essentialist in nature: its an assertion of mind-body mismatch, for christ's sake. where do you even begin if not with the idea that such things can also match?

i dont see how anybody could be willfully dense about this. the case is plainly stated by the people who are in the best possible position to characterize the whole predicament: i am a (wo)man trapped in a (wo)man's body. everything objectionable in that formulation is right out there in the open, which i just assume is why you run to this slander and only hint at a possible reply. as long as the critics are just pathological bigots, theres no need to reply. but there obviously is a need, so out with it



shut up

#12
Make chickeon thread monitor ty.
#13

cars posted:

Make chickeon thread monitor ty.


done.

#14
being trans carries with it no ideological commitment to any theoretical notions of gender essentialist or otherwise. it's an evident material social phenomena. those subject to it might hold a form of bio-essentialist beliefs or they might not, but this is not a given on any level

recognising a polarity of genders doesn't mean essentialism. that would be a comically reductive misreading of actual second-wave feminist thought. as dworkin says, the gender polarity is entirely real while not being true. identifying with the characteristics on either side of the polarity from your own isn't some biological binding of these characteristics. it's a recognition and consequence of the social expression of gender being ossified around these poles

whatever your aspirations to a fluid androgyny might be, it's idealism to believe your personal beliefs about your gender identity can somehow elide the social realities of this polarity and its influence on your expression and development
#15

kamelred posted:

maybe you could explain in detail what those answers are or even just link to them because the way the general experience and phenomenon of the trans dilemma is articulated, with almost comical uniformity, is unquestionably essentialist in nature: its an assertion of mind-body mismatch, for christ's sake. where do you even begin if not with the idea that such things can also match?

i dont see how anybody could be willfully dense about this. the case is plainly stated by the people who are in the best possible position to characterize the whole predicament: i am a (wo)man trapped in a (wo)man's body. everything objectionable in that formulation is right out there in the open, which i just assume is why you run to this slander and only hint at a possible reply. as long as the critics are just pathological bigots, theres no need to reply. but there obviously is a need, so out with it


"it's fascist biological essentialism" is a concise explanation and a direct response to the question posed. more elaborate explanations are highly situational because they involve a more precise engagement with the gender categories each party is using, because the socially realized ideology of gender is actually very fluid and historically malleable. not to mention that, for issues relating to pathologized gender and sexuality, the categories that are used by the pathologized people are highly constrained by the institutional ideology that they confront. this is the proper historical context for the popular "brain body mismatch" conception: a tactical compromise with institutions that police social life that individuals may be personally invested in to varying degrees. it's much less common today than it was several decades ago. in fact this is due in large part to organized efforts of trans groups to push back on the idea, which actually goes back to the old victorian pathological designation of "inversion".

Edited by c_man ()

#16
what a shitty article. i'm not at all surprised that the rag that posted it also puts out drivel like "How Romania went from Communist hell to Capitalist prosperity in three short decades" and posts articles from UK right-wingers about the "trans debate" (a cis british person discussing trans issues should just be a capital offense at this point).

imagine making a plea towards materialism while at the same time recycling the right-wing trope about "men in women's bathrooms". fuck off.
#17
by the way the original article links to a UK hate group that specifically targets trans people if you need any more insight on where the "just asking questions" author is coming from
#18

c_man posted:

kamelred posted:

maybe you could explain in detail what those answers are or even just link to them because the way the general experience and phenomenon of the trans dilemma is articulated, with almost comical uniformity, is unquestionably essentialist in nature: its an assertion of mind-body mismatch, for christ's sake. where do you even begin if not with the idea that such things can also match?

i dont see how anybody could be willfully dense about this. the case is plainly stated by the people who are in the best possible position to characterize the whole predicament: i am a (wo)man trapped in a (wo)man's body. everything objectionable in that formulation is right out there in the open, which i just assume is why you run to this slander and only hint at a possible reply. as long as the critics are just pathological bigots, theres no need to reply. but there obviously is a need, so out with it

"it's fascist biological essentialism" is a concise explanation and a direct response to the question posed. more elaborate explanations are highly situational because they involve a more precise engagement with the gender categories each party is using, because the socially realized ideology of gender is actually very fluid and historically malleable. not to mention that, for issues relating to pathologized gender and sexuality, the categories that are used by the pathologized people are highly constrained by the institutional ideology that they confront. this is the proper historical context for the popular "brain body mismatch" conception: a tactical compromise with institutions that police social life that individuals may be personally invested in to varying degrees. it's much less common today than it was several decades ago. in fact this is due in large part to organized efforts of trans groups to push back on the idea, which actually goes back to the old victorian pathological designation of "inversion".



https://www.amazon.com/Imagining-Transgender-Ethnography-David-Valentine/dp/0822338696

As soon as you go beyond media representation like toyot said, this is clear. Trans people are the most willing to engage with the problematic of gender as a social reification of patriarchy, the difficulty of breaking with ideology, and the political justification for their engagement with bourgeois society, at least if they aren't also bourgeois (but the problem here is the latter which determines the unfolding of the former). Also anyone who has participated in communist politics knows trans people are overrepresented. You can either give up and declare this to be another symptom of general petty-bourgeois consciousness or be happy that anyone is willing to be a communist at all in those conditions. Either way, trans people are a social fact, we can either work with that material or give it up to the bourgeoisie. Trans people keep becoming communists, that says something about the fundamental inability of bourgeois gender norms to satisfy their real being.

Having said that I do think we need to discuss how colonized people are made into objects of desire for colonizers. This is not just a matter of a few gay first worlders sexually exploiting gay third worlders but a general queering of the colonized

https://www.amazon.com/Metroimperial-Intimacies-Racial-Sexual-Philippines-Imperialism/dp/0822360349

Which turns them into sexual objects for otherwise "heterosexual" people within the colonial nation. Malcolm X talks about a very similar thing with white people coming down to Harlem and this has general consequences for how the entire colonized nation conceives of its own masculinity-nation relationship. This has been talked about in the context of homonationism but could easily become transnationalism, especially in those places where sex tourism is a major economic activity and any sort of autonomous gender identity is farcical in the face of economic pressure to modify oneself to the desires of the colonialist or starve. This could even become first world trans people using colonized people to fulfill their own impossible fantasies of gender, though that hasn't happened yet given the general impoverishment of trans people. This also happens when petty-bourgeois trans people, caught up in gay luxury space communism because it's popular on the internet, find that the colonized nations, socialist and other, do not fit into their fantasies of a liberated gender market. That Cuba and the CPP have become recently aligned to western ideals of what LGBT issues look like is avoiding the question of the interconnectedness of LGBT rights in the first world and both repression and creation in the third world. Saudi Arabian homophobia and Israeli pinkwashing are same phenomenon (or American gay marriage normalization and Ugandan homophobic anti-marriage legislation), there has been neither progress nor divergence. That queer people in the third world both use western language and their own language is a social fact, we can't go back to the utopian dreams of socialist Esperanto. But it is a very different kind of fact which requires dialectical thinking of relations which are not immediately visible through "representation" or even "existence."

We have to embrace trans overrepresentation in communism but we also have to guide it away from easy identification with imperialism, I can sympathize with pogfan posting this article even if the writer himself is not interested in these issues.

E: obviously OP article is trash. But where else could these issues be discussed? The internet no longer has the infrastructure for making discussions take place with a commitment to communism or any other ideology for that matter, the only ideology that pervades every discussion is unconscious liberalism that is generated by the act of posting on social media itself.

Edited by babyhueypnewton ()

#19
i mean those discussions are happening within radical parties at meetings, etc., at least the ones with trans members where their voices are included. usually the caliber of discourse is much better than the OP article where they're perceived by this TERF as some strange and foreign small minority deluded about their personal reality as judged by this guy.

Edited by aerdil ()

#20
it's always fun seeing the TERF appeal to "reality", statistics, in case this materialism, while constructing the right-wing boogeyman of men exploiting women in sports or the bathroom by pretending to be women, which, if it ever happens, is an extremely rare phenomenon of sociopaths with no shame that can be dealt with on a case-by-case basis by a society. in the mean time, you've condemned a sizeable minority of actual people to the actual harassment involved in using a bathroom or institution that doesn't conform to your gender. who do you really think is more at risk: a trans person identifying as female being forced to use a men's locker room, or women being in a private space with a trans person? (i'm glad bathroom rules will apparently dissuade the type of man willing to "pretend to be a woman" just to assault women from finding a way to do so) marxists should speak out strongly against such destructive discourse as exists in TERF diatribes, irrationality is always a symptom of hateful right-wing thought.
#21

babyhueypnewton posted:


i mean this seems fine but did you quote my post by mistake, it seems like a non sequitur?

#22

c_man posted:

babyhueypnewton posted:

i mean this seems fine but did you quote my post by mistake, it seems like a non sequitur?



I thought that putting it as a "tactical compromise" was a good intervention. People often enphasize how institutions impose themselves on people through ideology while neglecting that trans interventions were political interventions into a concrete situation and an explicit one at that. It's not enough to say the conditions are changing and as a result gender is in flux, we have to emphasize the political action of trans people themselves as part of this process. The rest is a non-sequitor though in response to toyot.

#23
oh ok i see, i was confused by the way it was formatted, with the book links at the top etc
#24
at this point the very use of the phrase "transgender ideology" is a warning flag to me, since said "ideology" only appears to exist as a monolith to the extent that it says "we exist; we are people," which is already objectionable to some. even the ramifications of that simple assertion of being, which include an implicit critique of patriarchal ideologies, are by no means understood uniformly across the people who stand united in asserting it (and often in little else)

moreover, rather than espousing a proper "ideology" of the sort a marxist might critique — that is to say, the sort of lens that fundamentally obscures some aspect of reality to the benefit of an exploitative class — my own trans comrades are instead some of the most inquisitive and critically minded souls i've had the pleasure of knowing, engaged in constant struggle and ruthless criticism: of society, of ideas, of self, and so on. I would describe them as extremely radical in the best sense, however often and loudly folks like the author of the OP article will hasten to affix the word to their own positions. hic rhodus, hic salta.

(debates between trans writers, i would add, have given me more useful concepts regarding the social constructs of sex and gender than have the folks who would prefer they just forget about the whole thing)

Edited by Constantignoble ()

#25

Constantignoble posted:

at this point the very use of the phrase "transgender ideology" is a warning flag to me, since said "ideology" only appears to exist as a monolith to the extent that it says "we exist; we are people,"


I disagree with this, there's definitely a mainstream "queer ideology".. There are very few places where you can even talk about etiology, talk about biological sex, or question the validity of ppls "identities" without getting screamed at. Certain ideas like "Biological sex is actually so complicated that it basically doesn't exist at all, and it's a made-up idea that was imposed by colonizers on innocent poc folx" are pretty much orthodoxy now.

I get that this is an uncomfortable conversation to have, and most people just want to be nice. But tbh i'm a little disappointed seeing ppl on here saying "Ew icky terf article phobic!". Might as well post about it since im already canceled hehe. Just dont delete fyad again plsz🥺

pogfan1996 posted:

The transgender response is often simply to repeat, “trans women are women”, without offering answers to important questions – what does that actually mean, why are feminist concerns about the implications of that ideology irrelevant, and why is radical feminism’s longstanding challenge to patriarchal gender norms not a productive path? In my experience, the left has largely accepted the policy proposals of the transgender movement without asking for a more coherent explanation and without providing safeguards for girls and women. Daring to challenge that ideology can get one shouted down in public and expelled from left organizations, experiences with which I am familiar.


I don't know if this guy is pretending not to know, or doesn't know bc he's a straight guy or whatever, but Queer Theory definitely has an answer for this, it's just not a leftist answer. They would say that people are what they identify as, regardless of what they look like/what they do/how they are treated.

One of the things that was so important about radical feminism was its focus on the material. To radical feminists, gender is the various assumptions/meanings that people project onto someone based on the sex that they believe that they are. A lot of bad things are still happening to people based on those assumptions!! Leftists are supposed to be materialist, and it's so frustrating that so many people these days are willing to pretend that none of this stuff is happening, or that somebody adopting an identity as "nonbinary", for instance, exempts them from it.

Ugh I could keep going and I started typing more paragraphs but I dont wanna get too edgy or anything, or type way too much.. Gender absolutely is oppressive and i have so much sympathy for ppl trying to deal with it in ways that seem comfortable to them. But i do feel that a lot of the stuff that's popular these days is legitimately regressive and harmful, or presupposing an imagined post-misogyny post-sex cartoon utopia that we are not even close to, and I wish it were possible to have real, necessary conversations about it, but most of the conversations happening now are done in bad faith from both sides. Within the trans community there are a ton of people who recognize how stupid the current trendy ideology is, but know that if they speak up about it they'll get harassed by straight nerds with anime catgirl avatars, so they don't. The article in the op is raising important questions, even though he doesnt actually try to answer them, and he seems kind of like a dweeb/simp. It's okay to think about this stuff critically guys, I promise it doesn't make you a bad person!! In fact, i hope that you will all have a very merry christmas. 🎅 Ho ho ho

#26

Patriarchal attitudes are woven so deeply into the fabric of our lives – especially our sexuality – that it can be difficult to see how the system shapes us and frightening when we start to understand it.

I understand the fear of confronting a powerful system and the difficulty in imagining something new.


this is something the author should spend some more time engaged in self-reflection about, great to see he's had a few moments of clarity over the last fifty years but maybe time spent writing radical dude books and giving ted talks have taken precedence since the bathroom wars heated up. i tend not to talk about sex and gender shit much as i got a lot of my own problems to think and live through, am glad that the expense of transitioning is not as large a one of those problems as it once was, perhaps due to transgender policies that alleviate the "material reality of sex differences in patriarchy", fuck oofff

#27
i like the passage from woman hating where dworkin directly addresses trans issues

There are three crucial points here. One, every transsexual has the right to survival on his/her own terms. That means that every transsexual is entitled to a sex-change operation, and it should be provided by the community as one of its functions. This is an emergency measure for an emergency condition. Two, by changing our premises about men and women, role-playing, and polarity, the social situation of transsexuals will be transformed, and transsexuals will be integrated into community, no longer persecuted and despised. Three, community built on androgynous identity will mean the end of transsexuality as we know it. Either the transsexual will be able to expand his/her sexuality into a fluid androgyny, or, as roles disappear, the phenomenon of transsexuality will disappear and that energy will be transformed into new modes of sexual identity and behavior.


which makes clear that whatever your individual will to is supplant & demolish the gender polarity, a gender identity that actually escapes it can only develop thru the real emergence of such as a social mode

which is not something that will come about thru the personal declarations and desires of individuals but as dworkin mentions, develops from a continuous social process of development and change. which unlike the utopian beliefs of those who think they can somehow avoid reifying the gender polarity on the strength of their character alone, will not be a clean process but one that ossifies aspects of the polarity while it undermines it in others

#28

Skylark posted:

I disagree with this, there's definitely a mainstream "queer ideology".. There are very few places where you can even talk about etiology, talk about biological sex, or question the validity of ppls "identities" without getting screamed at. Certain ideas like "Biological sex is actually so complicated that it basically doesn't exist at all, and it's a made-up idea that was imposed by colonizers on innocent poc folx" are pretty much orthodoxy now.

I get that this is an uncomfortable conversation to have, and most people just want to be nice.

I don't know if this guy is pretending not to know, or doesn't know bc he's a straight guy or whatever, but Queer Theory definitely has an answer for this, it's just not a leftist answer. They would say that people are what they identify as, regardless of what they look like/what they do/how they are treated.



if "the sex you were born as" wasn't such a fixture in the policing of queer identities like in law or in the arguments of folks dismissing the existence or validity of trans people writ large i don't think we'd see some of the more hyperbolic rejections of biological sex that you sort of uncharitably reference. which i think spawn from earnest questions and arguments about how biological sex is defined, then become generalized in during rhetorical trench warfare, by doubling down, by the lack of good faith or trust, etc. a lot of online interaction is not intended to investigate or learn, but to attack or defend. idk maybe that's too charitable of me, i don't really run into that much outside of posts ridiculing 'queer ideologists' but i'm not nearly as online as some folks. most queer folks i know, i know irl & having a personal connection, instead of seeing catboy avatars whose identity maybe doesn't seem valid, makes it easy to have critical & questioning conversations like those you say can't hardly have w/o getting screamed at. i don't ever want to engage "material reality" with person who just got done saying on the internet that we need to defend our women and children from the oppression of men pretending to be women

But tbh i'm a little disappointed seeing ppl on here saying "Ew icky terf article phobic!".


after dworkin got a shout out, high school athletic competition was condemned, and pisser police were pilloried what's left

#29
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Edited by solidar ()

#30
the idea that "trans ideology"/"queer theory" is hegemonic is a really bizarre sentiment imo. in the USA mainstream dems, large sectors of the DSA and adjacent groups, as well as everyone to the right of that are all happy to denounce "queer theory"/pomo/whatever as an insidious force sapping the vitality from political movements and the authentic volk. similarly in the UK, the state media just gave the richest author in the world an award for her concern troll article about how "trans ideology" is a dangerous excess, and explicit anti-LGBT sentiments have become a binding part of the ideology of fascist groups in europe. "cancel culture" has never been anything with any real effect compared to the very real violence of fascist repression and is basically always a smokescreen against acknowledging that reactionary sentiments are in fact reactionary.
#31
saying there is a hegemonic queer theory isnt the same thing as saying queer theory is hegemonic
#32
yes but the point is that it doesnt matter and is totally marginal. complaining about it as thought it negatively affects your life in some way says more about one's personal position than anything about meaningful political movements
#33
yes i'm certain it has little impact on the life of those who exist outside specifically queer/trans spaces in which such ideas can have a nonmarginal social presence. but why would it make sense to consider its significance in an absolute cross-section of society when these positions have their impact on those in socially marginal positions in the first place?
#34
because the trajectories of people's lives, especially the marginalized, are determined largely by their interactions with society at large? almost every LGBT person spends the majority of their social existence outside of LGBT spaces, and things like employment discrimination, existence in public spaces, etc enforce very powerful constraints on the lives of LGBT people.
#35
good work everyone, im sure you'll all crack this case soon
#36
yes, queer people are subject to entirely conventional and horrific homophobia and misogyny in their everyday lives. that's why dedicated spaces for the autonomous social organisation of those impacted by such conditions materialised in the first place. and why they can be vital to their lives and fundamental to any organisation of queer people as a political subject

this strikes me as about as banal an observation as suggesting that a worker would spend comparatively little time in party meetings
#37
any good LGBT history will demonstrate that self-conceptions and debates about them are often very intense and also often quickly (on the order of years to a decade or two) superseded or transformed into different debates with different stakes, and especially that academia is at least as often trailing behind as leading the debates. they're personally important and do have effects on peoples lives: they often involve things like organizing priorities and demands. they also have effects on people's social circles. but the overriding force of the bourgeois consensus lays down the firmament on which these struggles and debates are built. and it's a shifting territory, where relatively large reconfigurations can occur whenever some sector of the bourgeoisie rearranges itself relative to its competitors. this is another reason why i emphasize large scale political trends: they often have as much influence on the content and outcome of intra-LGBT debates as the participants themselves (academia included)
#38
i think it's clear that people are discussing queer ideology on a broader social level in these spaces rather than specifically the formal level of academic queer studies. participants in these discussions form and hold to theoretical and ideological positions whether they're actively studying them or not

and yes it's true that it's ultimately bourgeois society that dictates the base conditions of reflexively emerging ideology in these social spaces. that's the point, there are hegemonic positions in marginal social spaces which are conditioned and reinforced by bourgeois-patriarchal society
#39
Every article like this has a line about I am rabidly anti-imperialist and ecologically minded so I suppose I'm what you may call a ''''leftist''''''?- meaning they've decided those terms are real leftism and anything they don't like and refuse to honestly engage with isn't. And that's all there is to know about 'radical in my self-ordained bubble' leftism/communism/etc. Btw the punk MLM article from the other thread yearns for the same universe as this one using different words/terms. Ie one where I don't get to pay attention to context. Instead I get to pump every last drop of my fear and confusion into you because I need to become worthy of these important terms that are for me and my friends. This isn't 'online petite booje leftism', it's fascism plain and simple which is the hackneyed ideology of the crisis-beset parasitic classes. I'm guilty of it, as is virtually everyone born into said classes. No way out of it if we're living it. At best we can avoid letting it turn us into dumbass shameless monsters. This guy neither understands nor wants to undersntand how to ban porn, he wants to "critique" it in his boring dumbass way which obviously makes him a radfem anti-imperialist whatever. Apparently no porn actresses who are obviously pro-porn want to criticise/change the industry that oppresses them, they just want to criticise movies. The most effective way to get rid of porn is to get rid of the devices that play/transmit it, the electricity that powers them so radicals like him can critique cop shows for being racist. Deny those resources to the industry tormenting 100s of millions divert them into bettering their lives. Might there be some sort of connection between the two kinds of exploitation, hiding in plain sight because it's grotesque to those who benefit one way/another? He doesn't care, he wants to critique porno and movies at the same time. Nine o clock empire news is naughtier than any porn I've ever seen and I bet that like me this guy jacks off to it. He wants to ban prostitution but has he asked prostitutes what they think about that? Maybe they want prostitution to flourish on their terms, for example in the Scandinavian model he mentions where only the buyer is penalised and as a result the power dynamic inverted at least to an extent. I don't know much about that policy but I doubt the purpose of it from the prostitutes' pov is to end prostitution. Maybe they prefer having sex all day instead of, idk, droning on for hours about how prostitution bad as prostitution recovery consultants. Not to mention that there is nothing radical about those policies because applied to a small, easily pacified demographic in a rich parasite nation but what are the implications of broadening that logic to the max? And why isn't that happening? Author doesn't care, he just wants to ban stuff, like entire industries. That's how radical he is. But just specific industries that fascists also want to ban, not other industries connected to them physically, culturally, racially, even biologically. Those just need to be critiqued. Radically of course. What else? Trans women are social reality and actual women are biological reality, established beforehand by the fact that porn and prostitution are bad because they oppress actual women. Where does society end and biology begin? Is it social or genetic reality that causes the black body to be starved, deformed, shot at and caged? It's genotype->phenotype either way. Is place of birth not a social, political and geographical reality at the same time, consequently birth itself apart from being a biological reality. Only women can have babies and breastfeed them, which is author's sacred 'biological reality' whose honour he wants to defend. I'm sure women are overjoyed to know this asshole's life mission is to proclaim it from the rooftops. Author doesn't raise the question of whether the masculine desire to turn people into receptacles of one's seed is compatible with objectively wanting to know for sure if the dehumanised victim can conceive children. Doesn't care because radical. Well actually because he wants to stand outside women's bathrooms looking for trannies so he can beat the shit out of them right then and there.
#40

blinkandwheeze posted:

yes, queer people are subject to entirely conventional and horrific homophobia and misogyny in their everyday lives. that's why dedicated spaces for the autonomous social organisation of those impacted by such conditions materialised in the first place. and why they can be vital to their lives and fundamental to any organisation of queer people as a political subject

this strikes me as about as banal an observation as suggesting that a worker would spend comparatively little time in party meetings


well first i think the position of workers raising their consciousness as proletarians to seize the means of production have a fundamentally different relationship to the political character of their organizing structures but that might be a bit far afield here. in any case i think the analogy here is at best misleading. second, my main point is that intra-LGBT debates are often relatively easy to avoid, even for LGBT individuals, because of their marginal status (relative to the pressures on LGBT life), often highly local nature (even with the internet) and relative ephemerality (compared to social structures that require more concrete reproduction to replace, like relations of production).